Cotton's of Loughborough by Dennis Powdrill


We have had great pleasure in working with Dennis Powdrill on this project.

William Cotton’s development of industrial scale knitting machines was one of many local innovative developments that have had an impact on the world stage. The Cotton’s factories in Pinfold Gate and later on Belton Road in Loughborough were well known local landmarks. In a new book, octogenarian author, photographer and film-maker Dennis Powdrill has produced a fascinating history and insight into this important industrial development.

Dennis was born at Woodgate, Loughborough in 1930. He was the only child of local hosiery workers George and Elizabeth Powdrill. He was educated at Cobden Street School and Limehurst School in Bridge Street, Loughborough which he left at the age of 14. He was offered a place at William Cotton’s in Pinfold Gate, in what was then, their newly introduced student apprenticeship scheme.

“I left Limehurst School at the age of 14, like most of my friends, and was expected to find work and to start almost immediately. That was how it was, no work, no pay. Remember this was August 1944 and the country had been at war since 1939. D-day, the invasion of Europe had just taken place on June 6th and thousands of young men not much older than me were losing their lives in Normandy."

"I applied for a job at Cottons in Pinfold Gate, Loughborough and I well remember my interview with Mr. Crossen, the works director. The first thing he did when he met me was to shake my hand. Not all was what it seemed however, for if the palms of your hands were ‘sweaty’, then you did not get a job. You were deemed to have rusty hands which would send the metalwork of the machines red rusty.”

At the age of 21 he was conscripted to spend 2 years National Service in the R.A.F. servicing ground equipment in the workshops, before returning to Cotton’s on demobilisation. The majority of his working life was spent at Cotton’s, where he was employed in many and varied posts, before being made redundant at the age of 60.

Dennis had prepared himself for this anticipated scenario and commenced work the following week in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Loughborough University until he retired at 65 years of age.

This book is a tribute to the skills, industry and dedication of generations of mostly local people who worked at Cotton’s. Products from Cotton’s were fundamental to the establishment of the knitwear industry throughout the world.

Dennis Powdrill’s book will be published by Panda Eyes Publishers Ltd, available through local bookshops and on line at from mid-June 2012.



Cotton's of Loughborough by Dennis Powdrill

Cotton's of Loughborough by Dennis Powdrill

Mon 23rd September, 2013

"Cotton's Of Loughborough", the history of the Cotton’s factories in Loughborough, by local author and film-maker Dennis Powdrill, is now available online. Read More »


Fri 15th February, 2013 @ 11:06pm by robert birkin

Hello Dennis, you used to call me young man, many years ago, you meet my sister sometimes walking her dog out in the park, I was Trav peppers apprentice, many years ago, I have just, read your book, and it brought tears to my eyes, I got very upset reading it, I am trying to contact any of the outside staff that are still living, please can you help me. My email address is or please go to my website at to see what I have become. It's a long time since you first showed me how to test a machine. Best regards Bob. p.s did you know that my sister dog died last week.

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